val·​e·​dic·​to·​ri·​an ˌva-lə-ˌdik-ˈtȯr-ē-ən How to pronounce valedictorian (audio)
: the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises

Example Sentences

She was the valedictorian of her class in 1985.
Recent Examples on the Web Lee, a two-time Los Angeles City Player of the Year and All-American/valedictorian at Reseda High, doubled as a Hall of Fame beach volleyball player and was an excellent tennis player. San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Sep. 2022 All four Offspring members have done their time in academia, although former class valedictorian Holland is probably the most schooled—just a dissertation away from a molecular biology Ph.D. at USC. Chris Norris, SPIN, 4 Sep. 2022 Up until December, Mark and Toni were joined at church by their son, George, a lawyer and the 2000 valedictorian of the local high school. Dan Gearino, ABC News, 29 July 2022 Sitting on stage next to Gorham’s class president and class valedictorian, Shaw thought of his goals for the future: going to a college, playing football for his university, starting a mechanic shop and a photography business. Lilly Price, Baltimore Sun, 12 June 2022 Her aunt was the valedictorian of her high school class but never graduated from college because she was placed in an internment camp. Globe Staff,, 27 July 2022 Counselor Amy Burke called Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology valedictorian Samad Hakani a student of both computational physics and civic engagement. Hunter Boyce, ajc, 13 June 2022 Rollins College valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker gave a powerful speech at commencement last week. Wyatte Grantham-philips, USA TODAY, 13 May 2022 Those are the words Rollins College valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker lives by – words that inspired Rollins’ most famous graduate, Mr. Fred Rogers. Aj Willingham, CNN, 13 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'valedictorian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


valedictor(y) + -ian

First Known Use

1759, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of valedictorian was in 1759

Dictionary Entries Near valedictorian

Cite this Entry

“Valedictorian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: the student usually of the highest rank in a graduating class who gives the farewell speech at graduation ceremonies

More from Merriam-Webster on valedictorian

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.